Three people preparing food as part of LITE's catering social enterprise
Three people preparing food as part of LITE’s catering social enterprise.

How do you define the value you get through the purchasing choices you make? We usually think of price, quality, convenience, and perhaps a brand we want to identify with. But what if there is more at stake with each purchase?

If you knew that each choice could change someone’s life, or strengthen your community, how would that influence your decisions? I’ll show you what I mean, by telling you a story, and introducing you to an opportunity to maximize value through purchasing.

As a young kid, I remember standing in the middle of my small-town general store holding a dollar bill in my hand. Yes, I know that dates me to another era, but what struck me at the time was the realization that this small piece of paper provided me an opportunity, and a choice.

No, my mind didn’t turn to social finance and supporting the local co-operative movement with a sustainable fair trade choice. As a kid in a rural town, there was really only one local business. My options were basically limited to whether it would be a package containing a chalky, brittle piece of pink gum that happened to include hockey cards, or some other fun treats I’d seen my classmates with. Being new to Canada, both seemed to be part of the ‘cool kid’ culture, so this decision wasn’t an easy one.

As a tween, being able to earn a few more dollars mowing lawns for a handful of senior neighbours expanded my options, both in variety and volume. Now, my maturing thought process started to include a number of considerations: buying something for my brother as well, which I’m sure I didn’t do as often as I should have, or saving up for something even more important like a record (again, dating myself) from a nearby town that had more shops.

I was beginning to understand the power of purchasing. However, at this point I thought the power was purely about how it impacted me, and perhaps my family who would inevitably be subjected to the music I chose. At the same time, I was beginning to appreciate my parents’ commitment to various humanitarian causes. They dedicated their time and resources to building community, as you may recall from my first blog on Finding My Purpose. From their role modeling, I was coming to understand that money was for living, but also for giving to those with less.

But it wasn’t until I learned the story of LITE that my own experiences, my parents’ example, and my quickly forming personal values came together. Everyone is familiar with the concept of giving food to people who don’t have enough to eat. Simple to understand, and easy to do. It is kindness in action. But while this gift of food is essential in the moment, does it change the reason someone needed food in the first place? Or could the gift of food be provided in a way that supports solutions to poverty rather than simply easing its pain?

Continue reading about how LITE changed the way I understood CED and the power of purchasing.


Brendan Reimer is a CCEDNet member (and former staffer!) who now serves as Strategic Partner, Values-Based Banking at Assiniboine Credit Union.

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On November 2 & 3, Ryan Turnbull, Member of Parliament for Whitby, hosted the Sustainable Finance Forum on Parliament Hill, highlighting the opportunities and challenges to scale up social innovation and sustainable finance to create jobs, transition to net-zero, and build an inclusive economy.

The remarks below were made by Tiffany Callender, CEO of the Federation of African Canadian Economics, or FACE.


Honorable Senators, Distinguished guests,

Ministre et membre parlementaire,

It is an honor for me to speak to you today as the Chief Executive Officer of the Federation of African Canadian Economics, which is also known as FACE.

It is a privilege to speak to you about our organization, our goals and our vision. I want to express my thanks to MP Arielle Kayabaga and MP Ryan Turnbull for the invitation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only disrupted our personal lives, but it has had major consequences on thousands of men and women who have chosen to start a business, to create wealth and jobs and to contribute to Canada’s economic recovery.

The federal government and the provinces responded quickly by enacting policies to support businesses and business owners. These policies have allowed many of them to wither the storm and to eventually reopen their businesses.

In the black business community, however, we quickly noticed how difficult it was for many black entrepreneurs to access funds and, in some cases, to reopen their businesses. Black entrepreneurs faced two major obstacles, namely accessibility and adaptability.

This is why, in January 2021, 5 black-led business organizations got together and decided to act to ensure that black entrepreneurs had the same chances as every other Canadian entrepreneur to recover and succeed.

The Federation of African Canadian Economics was founded by Groupe 3737, the Côtes-des-Neiges Black community association, the Black Business Initiative, the Black Business and Professionals association and the Africa Centre.

FACE une organisation nationale bilingue à but non lucratif géré par des noirs pour contribuer au développement et à l’essor de la communauté noire du Canada.

We believe that we can only recover from this pandemic and the economic challenges we currently face by mobilizing all economic forces. We believe that this is how we can strengthen our economy. We further believe that it is by ensuring that all can equally contribute to improving our economy that we can create wealth.

It was vital for us to go beyond words and to take action to support black entrepreneurs. We are extremely grateful in that regard for the government of Canada’s support. We are especially grateful to the Minister of International Trade, Export, Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, Mary Ng, whose role was critical in the creation of the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, which was publicly announced by the prime minister on May 31, 2021.

Some may have doubts about the importance of having a black-led fund dedicated to the black community. This is a legitimate preoccupation. So is, in our view, the answer to such a preoccupation.

According to an Abacus Data survey commissioned by the African Canadian Senate Group, which captured numerous obstacles faced by black entrepreneurs.

This survey confirmed what many in the black business community had observed at the beginning of the pandemic, namely that black entrepreneurs faced obstacles that other Canadian entrepreneurs didn’t:

  • Systemic racism impacts most Black Entrepreneurs: 76% of Black entrepreneurs surveyed said their race makes it harder to succeed as an entrepreneurs
  • Access to capital is the greatest barrier for black entrepreneurs.  75% say that if they needed to find 10,000 $ to support their business, it would be difficult for them to do so
  • Networks and supports are critical to empowering black entrepreneurs
  • Low trust in banks is widespread: only 19% of respondents say that they trust banks to do what is right for them and their community

We should not take these findings lightly. A just and prosperous country like Canada should not ignore these realities.

As a country founded by immigrants and cultural communities, we simply cannot ignore such a problem and we must find solutions.

This is especially true today as we are still recovering from the most severe crisis Canada has known in the last 100 years.

Canada will have to rely on everyone, in particular on small and medium businesses, to ensure its economic recovery and create wealth for all Canadians.

We believe FACE can be part of the solution to our current economic challenges.

Since the creation of FACE, we have worked relentlessly to better support black entrepreneurs.

To those who had doubts about a black-led fund dedicated to black entrepreneurs, I can proudly say that there is a clear need for support and financial help in the black entrepreneurial community.

Nothing better illustrates this than the almost instantaneous interest that the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund created among the black community and in particular, the black business community.

As of October 31st 2022, FACE has approved 312 companies for financing representing $27.7 million and of that has disbursed $18.5 million in loans ranging between $10,000 – $250,000 to black entrepreneurs from all over the country.

Its beneficiaries have told us on multiple occasions how much these loans have had a positive impact on their businesses, especially in terms of growth, expansion, hiring, modernizing, etc. Our loans have encouraged thousands of black entrepreneurs to take risks, to persevere, to innovate and to create wealth for their community.

As the Chief Executive Officer of FACE, as a member of the black community, and above all, as a Canadian, I am very proud of what we’ve done in such a short period. I am proud of our accomplishments and I am proud to belong to such a movement which is a demonstration of what social finance can be in this country.

A movement in which no one is left behind.

A movement where everyone is included and has an equal chance to pursue their goals and dreams.

Senators, ministers and members of parliament, having the best intentions or objectives is not sufficient. We can only achieve our goals if we have the right partners. Collective success is often greater than individual success.

I would like to highlight the BDC’s contribution to our project. To have the bank that supports entrepreneurs from across the country support us has been an advantage.

I would like to highlight once again the federal government’s contribution to our project. Without the government’s active support, we would have never been able to help so many black entrepreneurs access funding and create wealth.

I also want to highlight Alterna Savings as well as Vancity who have supported us from the very beginning, especially regarding our microloan pilot project. Their contribution and their dedication towards FACE and black entrepreneurs’ command respect and admiration.

As you can see, FACE has built strong relationships with multiple financial institutions. In addition to our financial partners, we can also count on the support of corporate partners like MNP who provide our clients with all sorts of resources and advice so they can succeed financially.

These partnerships are very important to us and illustrate our willingness to build a strong business community.

Whether it’s the way we interact with entrepreneurs, communicate with entrepreneurs, or manage internal operations, we’ve made innovation one of our guiding principles.

We launched a custom digital interface, BOBi (Black Owned Business interFACE), where entrepreneurs can apply for loans and follow their application process from beginning to end in an easy and simple way. With Bobi, FACE now possesses the most exhaustive mapping of black businesses in Canada.

This digital platform is not only a tool for entrepreneurs, but it is also an innovative platform that allows us to interact with our clients, to identify the systemic barriers they face and their specific needs.

As of today, FACE has over 27,000 accounts registered on our platform.

Also important to note, at the close of our 1st fiscal year end, among the companies financed under the Black Entrepreneurship program, 32% were women, 9% are members of the LGBTQ2+, 11% are between the ages of 18 to 29 and 81% were born outside of Canada.

Without this fund and this digital platform, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to provide you with such data. One thing, however, is clear: our business community is very diverse.

Its intersectional component requires a flexible and adaptable approach. And this is precisely our mission, which is to understand the different segments of our community to better promote its members’ financial well-being.

Our determination is strong. We want to promote a vision where black businesses can become an important component of Canada’s economy.

The description that I’ve given you of our organization, especially of our mission and accomplishments, makes me very proud to be a part of FACE.

However, our journey is only just beginning. It’s still too early to claim victory or mission accomplished.

The road ahead is still full of obstacles. If we want our actions and accomplishments to have a lasting effect, we need strong political support, especially from you.

As I said earlier, since its creation, the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund has generated almost instantaneous interest and enthusiasm. And still does to this day. This has prompted us to review and improve our internal operations, notably our technological and human resources.

We now have a robust internal structure where people’s skills and knowledge benefit our administrators, employees and our clients.

This was made possible because of our visionary governance model. Our board of directors operates under the following axes: mutually reinforcing expertise, adequate representation of every region of the country, diversity of experience and bilingualism. This is how we can collectively take strategic decisions and consider the diverse interests of Canada’s black community.

In a short period, we’ve built a solid organization that is based on values such as transparency and solidarity. These values allow us to have a lasting effect and to fulfill our mission in accordance with the highest business standards.

We must have the resources to fulfill our mandate in the best conditions possible and in the interest of our clients. It is vital to have financial support that corresponds to our mission.

We want to be the federal government’s main interlocutor when it comes to black entrepreneurship, as well as parliamentary forums and committees. We want to continue optimizing our operational capacities by adding new resources and improving our partnerships with financial institutions.

Simply put, we will need your support to have a durable fund. Whether it is our operating budget or the development of new partnerships, we believe the government can play a key role in helping us achieve our goals: that is, to support black entrepreneurs’ contribution to the economic prosperity of Canada.

I thank you for this opportunity to speak to you about FACE and look forward to your continued support to continue the momentum in supporting Black business Canada.

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Tiffany Callender

Chief Executive Officer
Federation of African Canadian Economics

Tiffany Callender was named the inaugural CEO of The Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE) in 2021. The national and bilingual Black-led non-profit organisation is focused on providing resources and information to the Black community across Canada, with the aim of accelerating wealth creation for Canadians of African descent. A community developer and social entrepreneur, Tiffany has spent her career developing and implementing programs to support Montreal’s Black community. In addition to being the youngest female Executive Director of one of the oldest Black organizations in Quebec, she was recognized as one of the 100 most influential person of African-descent under 40 in 2020.

On November 2 & 3, Ryan Turnbull, Member of Parliament for Whitby, hosted the Sustainable Finance Forum on Parliament Hill, highlighting the opportunities and challenges to scale up social innovation and sustainable finance to create jobs, transition to net-zero, and build an inclusive economy.

The remarks below were made by Shannin Metatawabin, CEO of the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association as part of a panel discussion during the Forum on Indigenous Entrepreneurship and Reconciliation, moderated by Jaime Battiste, MP for Sydney—Victoria.


My name is Shannin Metatawabin from Fort Albany in Northern Ontario.  I want to thank the people of this territory for allowing us to have this meeting on their territory.  

I want to tell you a little bit about the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations, but I want to build on what Jamie first started with is an Indigenous term that speaks to what we’re talking about today.  

In the Cree worldview, Quatchee is the word that we use and it basically speaks to how the health of your neighbour determines the success of your future.  And I think it speaks highly to what we’re trying to talk about here with social impact investing, ensuring that we don’t forget people, ensuring that we’re inclusive of our society in general because the capitalist way of thinking is individualistic whereas our Indigenous world view is community, and we won’t be successful unless our community is successful.  

Yesterday, I was able to participate in the first day of the Sustainable Finance Forum, and I spoke to some of the MPs and participants who didn’t know about our network, so I want to make sure that I’m comprehensive with letting you know that more than 35 years ago, the government had a great idea to be inclusive of Indigenous people:  to provide $240 million that has now been recycled 15 times in the last 35 years.  

It’s helped establish 59 financial institutions from coast to coast to coast, covering Inuit, Metis and First Nations.  Financial institutions that provide business developmental lending – the way I describe it is we’re the Indigenous version of the Business Development Bank of Canada, who is a partner of ours as well.  

We have recently launched an Indigenous Growth Fund, and this is our tool to allow us to raise private sector capital to provide more capital into our network.  

There’s about $350M in loan capital in our network that’s been recycled, and it’s been growing to $3.3 billion dollars in lending.  More than 50,000 loans have been provided throughout this network.  So it’s an infrastructure that’s sitting out in the ecosystem covering all parts of Canada that is deploying capital.  

Now with the Indigenous Growth Fund, we’ve issued some loans to our members who are in turn providing that to the ecosystem, providing more business. For every loan provided, 72% increase in life satisfaction is experienced by that entrepreneur.  A 52% increase in mental health indicators, and 20 percent increase in health indicators.  Why I mention that is because these are real social impacts.  Those are cost savings to Canada, and social spend;  it’s increasing own source revenues for communities – it’s impacting every community at every level. 

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Shannin Metatawabin, ICD.D

Shannin MetatawabinChief Executive Officer
National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association

Shannin is Cree/Inninow from Fort Albany First Nation of the Mushkegowuk Nation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Carleton University and an Aboriginal Economic Development certificate from the University of Waterloo. He previously served as the Executive Director of the Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation and the Manager of Aboriginal Affairs and Sustainability with De Beers Canada.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation (CWF) is a national leader in the movement for gender justice in Canada. Through funding, research, advocacy, and knowledge sharing, CWF works to achieve systemic change. We interviewed Sagal Dualeh, Senior Director, Investment Readiness Program at CWF to find out more about gender justice and community economic development (CED).

What is gender justice and how does community economic development (CED) advance the cause of gender justice?

The Global Fund for Women defines gender justice as the redistribution of power, opportunities, and access for people of all genders. Achieving gender justice means that all women, girls, and Two Spirit, trans, and non-binary people get the full rights, support, and respect they deserve. This includes paid fair and livable wages, safety from violence and harassment, representation in all levels of decision-making, and every opportunity to thrive. Pursuing gender justice means pursuing a wide range of systemic changes for social justice, including an end to racism, poverty, and other forms of discrimination and barriers. As Third Wave Fund notes, “gender justice can only truly be achieved when all forms of oppression cease to exist”. 

Economic development advances gender justice by addressing the fact that women and gender-diverse people are at high risk of poverty, which makes them and their families vulnerable to problems like housing and food insecurity, exploitation, and gender-based violence. When economic development programs are grounded in their communities, they can be tailored to the unique needs, cultures, and strengths of those communities. They can offer wrap-around supports – such as childcare services or subsidies, transportation support, emergency loans for program materials – tailored to maximize program participants’ chances of success. They can also build the community’s capacity for mentorship, leadership, and sustainability in economic development. 

What does a feminist approach to economic development look like?

A feminist approach to economic development:

  • Seeks to undo patriarchal social structures, as well as recognize that colonialism is a root cause of “power over” relationships.
  • Takes a strengths-based approach, which means not only “funding deficits” but building resilience and capacity.
  • Supports and builds collective action and movements, taking direction from organizations led by people they represent and acting on the concept of “nothing about us, without us.”
  • Applies an intersectional approach, recognizing and responding to the diversities of people and communities
  • Creates pathways for women and gender-diverse people to actively participate and lead, as they are most affected by gender inequalities
  • Responds to peoples’ immediate individual needs while also working to change policy, law, and institutions for the better.

We love CWF’s origin story and the respect you pay to the Founding Mothers of the Foundation. What progress have you seen since the founding, and what challenges remain?

The Foundation was launched more than 30 years ago by a visionary group of women who believed that, by working together, we can overcome immense challenges. On the economic front, it’s been encouraging to see progress in terms of women’s workforce participation and earning potential, particularly in traditionally male-dominated arenas like STEM. It’s also been encouraging to see an increased ratio of women in professional and political leadership roles, where they are in a position to advocate for structural and systemic change. More recently, it’s been promising to see the federal government’s increased investments in supporting gender equality, and its commitment to establishing a national childcare system.

But many challenges remain, particularly when we take an intersectional lens to diverse women’s progress. It’s clear that barriers remain higher for women who are racialized, Indigenous, newcomers, or living with disabilities, for example. Women and gender-diverse people from these groups face a higher wage gap as well as more discrimination when it comes to accessing employment, advancement, and leadership opportunities. These groups were also disproportionately impacted by the pandemic in terms of loss of employment and income, making action and systemic change event more urgent. 

Through the Resetting Normal report series, the Foundation has outlined key priorities for policy- and decision-makers when it comes to centring gender equity in the pandemic recovery. Taking action on these priorities now will also help to shock-proof the country against possible future crises, including the coming climate emergency. 

Canadian Women’s Foundation is an Investment Readiness Program (IRP) partner. How has the IRP helped advance the cause of gender justice? What impacts have you seen the IRP have in your communities?  

The Investment Readiness Program has helped boost the participation of women and gender diverse people in Canada’s growing social finance, social enterprise and innovation sector. The IRP has been especially important for organizations that serve women and gender diverse people who face multiple barriers and who have historically been excluded from accessing capital, financing and support. 

Through prioritized funding and capacity building supports to social enterprises, non-profits and enterprising charities led by and serving women and/or gender diverse people, we’ve seen the economic growth and readiness of these social purpose organizations as they not only join but influence Canada’s emerging growing social finance marketplace. We’ve seen social purpose organizations grow their revenue and scale impact in their communities as they address issues such as affordable housing, gender-based violence, poverty, food insecurity and so much more.

In practice, we see the strengths and unique features of ventures led by and serving women and gender diverse people since they have a deep commitment to gender justice and social change, are best-placed in their communities, know the strengths of the communities they serve, and how to design social innovations that centre women and women and gender diverse people. 

To learn more about our Investment Readiness Program and funding opportunities, and access resources for entrepreneurs, social enterprises, and social purpose organizations, click here. To stay-up-to date on all Canadian Women’s Foundation funding opportunities, sign up for our Community Initiatives newsletter here.

How can CCEDNet members support the work that the Canadian Women’s Foundation is doing?

You can get involved in gender justice in a number of ways. The last two years have been challenging for us all. The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken 30 years of gender equality gains, and it continues to have an unprecedented impact on vulnerable women, girls and gender-diverse people throughout the country. There is a lot to be done and now, more than ever, we are looking for help from people like you, who have an interest in helping to advance gender justice through generously sharing your time, skills and ideas. 

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One way to get involved is to become aware of Signal for Help – a simple one-handed gesture/sign without a digital trace to help people facing abuse, save lives and drive cultural change. Since the Signal for Help was launched in April 2020 by the Canadian Women’s Foundation, and it has gone viral around the world. It has been adopted regionally by 200+ organizations across 40+ countries and shared millions of times on social media. 

Read about Principles for Feminist Funding here.

Listen to our Alright, Now What? Podcast here. Every other Wednesday, our experts and partners put an intersectional feminist lens on one topic or story we’ve all been hearing about … the issues and stories that just seem to keep resurfacing and make you wonder, “What’s this about?”, “Why is this still happening?”, and “How is it possible we haven’t fixed this yet?” We’re going to explore the systemic roots of these things and the strategies for change that will move us closer to the goal of gender justice. Listen wherever you get your podcast content.

Get involved in the Tireless Campaign and donate here or explore other ways to give and support gender justice by joining our volunteer mailing list here.

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On September 29th, the We Want to Work coalition sent two questions to all candidates for mayor and council in the City of Winnipeg ahead of October 26th’s municipal election:

  • If elected, will you champion the implementation of Winnipeg’s Sustainable Procurement Action Plan as passed by Council in July 2022, including a dedicated staff person and third party expert engagement? (If yes, how? If somewhat or no, why?)
  • If elected, what other actions will you take to increase social purchasing practices in the City of Winnipeg with positive social, economic, and environmental benefits for our local community? 

Check out the responses from candidates below!

Background

We Want to Work

On Thursday, July 21st, 2022, the Sustainable Procurement Action Plan (SPAP) was unanimously approved by Winnipeg’s City Council. This means the City of Winnipeg will now integrate four pillars of Sustainable Procurement: social, Indigenous, environmental, and ethical, producing value for the community while achieving its purchasing needs.

This policy progress came after many months of deliberation, conversation, and discussion, as well as advocacy from the We Want to Work coalition.

We Want to Work is a coalition of CCEDNet members – community organizations and social enterprises in Manitoba committed to healthy communities in Winnipeg, addressing poverty, supporting good jobs, and taking climate action. CCEDNet Manitoba helps convene this coalition.

We Want to Work believes that one of the best ways to achieve these goals is for governments to consider community benefits in their purchasing. The City of Winnipeg spends a significant amount per year on goods and services that can have an impact on the local community beyond the purchase itself. 

With this important policy change taken in July, it is exciting to watch as the City of Winnipeg becomes a stronger partner in a vision where sustainable, equitable, and inclusive communities are directing their own futures! 

Winnipeg’s SPAP is available here and includes more background information.

We Want to Work has noted that they appreciate the phased-in and iterative nature of the SPAP, which they believe will allow for innovation, partnership development, and refinement of policy over the next three years. In particular, We Want to Work supports the inclusion of a dedicated staff person to serve as a Sustainable Procurement liaison, the support of third party expertise with experience from other jurisdictions, and the integrated thinking across all four pillars of Sustainable Procurement.

Responses from Candidates

Candidates for Mayor

1. If elected, will you champion the implementation of Winnipeg’s Sustainable Procurement Action Plan as passed by Council in July 2022, including a dedicated staff person and third party expert engagement? (Possible Answers – yes, no, somewhat. Follow up: If yes, how? If somewhat or no, why?)

  • Scott Gillingham: Yes.
    • “By ensuring the goals and principles of the SPAP are kept in place. I was instrumental in steering it through council and I was a strong advocate for its adoption. I was part of council that passed the plan and as mayor I would ensure that it be implemented.”
  • Shaun Loney: Yes.
    • “Value the impact that interventions have on each system.”
  • Chris Clacio: Yes/Somewhat.
    • “When elected, I do vow to be a champion of the implementation of Winnipeg’s Sustainable Procurement Action Plan as passed by council in July 2022, only when I do my own due diligence and meet with public adminstration and other councillors will I when elected fully vow to include a dedicated staff person and third party expert engagement. As a Civic Practitioner and a Policy Entrepreneur I am a big believer that research, Science/Tech/Engineering/Arts/Math Jobs, qualitative (expert/storytelling) and quantitative (statistical/numerical) data should guide the decision making process within our civic government going forwards. Part of that process is building trust within the Heavy Construction and Development industry in Winnipeg. I do not work in the industry but as a citizen of Winnipeg I need to know that the sector leaders are willing to allow citizens to be at the table when conversations such as procurement processes are discussed. Trust and Respect are gained mutually and must be reciprocal before I can fully be a champion of this or any other implementation plan to improve city services. Which is why my early platform announcement was about the expansion and rebranding the “Office of Public Engagement” into the “Office of Civic Engagement.” Civics defined is knowing your rights, responsibility, duties, and values towards a city. Knowledge experts and accountability to the citizens will be the guiding value I believe will also be crucial going forwards.”
  • Robert-Falcon Ouellette, Rana Bokhari, Jenny Motkaluk, Don Woodstock, Glen Murray, Kevin Klein, Idris Adelakun, Rick Shone:
    • No response.

2. If elected, what other actions will you take to increase social purchasing practices in the City of Winnipeg with positive social, economic, and environmental benefits for our local community?

  • Scott Gillingham:
    • “Longer term tendering practices so that planning is easier and economical and there’s economies of scale. Ride sharing and electric vehicles for city fleet management. A recognition of the need for diverse voices in employment practices and hiring. Our annual report in diversity has not been meeting its our goals and we need to work towards a workforce that reflects our city. As mayor I would support the initiatives put in place already by the city in its adoption of a four-pillar model which promotes a comprehensive approach to sustainable procurement that addresses supply chain opportunities across four pillars: environmental, ethical, social, and Indigenous. This is important because it addresses environmental and ethical risks and opportunities as well as opportunities in the social and Indigenous areas.”
  • Shaun Loney:
    • “Mayor as Champion, rallying around reducing emergency service workloads and promoting employment for newcomers, indigenous folks, people with disabilities and others with little connection to the labour market.”
  • Chris Clacio:
    • “During the summer of Aug 2nd, 2022 I had released my entire platform document. In it I have made the vow that I would reform the current “Request for Proposal” procurement process into a “Qualification-Based Selection” procurement and purchasing process. This was a suggestion made back in 2018 when I was registered as a mayoral candidate by QBS Canada in an email. Disappointed to hear during the Executive Policy Committee chair questioning and challenging the work of the working group that I believe citizens should have push for the QBS process instead of maintaining the current RFx process back in 2014. One of my platform vows is the creation of an open-contracting data standards (or smart contracts) within the city procurement process. Citizens can learn more at https://www.open-contracting.org/. I truly believe that to removing a lot of red tape and city bureaucracy and replacing it with new technologies like machine learning, app and website development, and smart cities tech will be a cost-effective way to find 2% efficiency within our city budget that will allow the city to pay off our structural infrastructure deficit slowly but surely. I also push for the restructuring of the entire public administration and governance structure to allow for the culture within city hall to allow for innovative experts and perspectives to change many city processes. Which I believe has been undermining the work of the working group from the very beginning as I followed along with what the city has been doing for social purchasing or procurement. I truly believe that implementing the QBS process is to fundamentally change to how both major road and building construction projects get to be awarded in the process.”
  • Robert-Falcon Ouellette, Rana Bokhari, Jenny Motkaluk, Don Woodstock, Glen Murray, Kevin Klein, Idris Adelakun, Rick Shone:
    • No response.

Candidates for Council

1. If elected, will you champion the implementation of Winnipeg’s Sustainable Procurement Action Plan as passed by Council in July 2022, including a dedicated staff person and third party expert engagement? (Possible Answers – yes, no, somewhat. Follow up: If yes, how? If somewhat or no, why?)

  • Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood
    • No response from any candidates.
  • Daniel McIntyre
    • Cindy Gilroy: Yes. “I support hiring staff and third party input.”
    • Sal Infantino: Yes. “I will work with the Sustainable Procurement Action Plan Committee to ensure a viable strategies across multiple departments.”
    • Omar Kinnarath: Yes. “I would make sure all procurement in terms of material and talent come from the citizens first, gather a list of businesses we should be dealing with, and which ones are fully staffed by Winnipegers, rather than them just having an office here.”
  • Elmwood – East Kildonan
    • Jason Schreyer: no response.
    • Ryan Kochie: Yes. “The city procures a lot of items over the year for various departments, and having that overseed and properly audited is important. Part of that is making sure that there is someone who is making sure we are making the best decisions possible for the environment, for the people, for the community. Supporting small local businesses when possible helps our economy and ensures money stays local to be cycled around, as well has positive environmental impacts by having less shipping, by ensuring we are buying products that were made with care and are suited to our city’s needs.”
  • Fort Rouge – East Fort Garry
    • Michael Thompson: no response.
    • Sherri Rollins: Yes. “I already supported in 2022, and don’t intend on changing my vote. I remain consistently in favour of social procurement health and community efforts on social procurement design at the city of Winnipeg.”
  • Mynarski
    • Ed Radchenka: Yes. “I AM ONLY ONE VOICE.i appreciate the opportunity to help work with SPAP.”
    • Ross Eadie: Yes. “While always working for a better future for the Mynarski Ward and Winnipeg, I voted to establish that new “social procurement policy”.  I will continue to support, but you must know that I strongly believe the city’s Public Service should be expanded into places that were taken away over the years.  The City of Winnipeg is a social enterprise.”
    • Steve Snyder: no response.
    • Natalie Smith: Yes. “I will champion the implementation of Winnipeg’s Sustainable Procurement Action Plan by ensuring that any and all budget dollars be allocated to the hiring and support of this dedicated staff person and for third party expert engagement. Mynarski is the home to many of the amazing social enterprises and the workers that stand to gain the most from this programs implementation and will be a major investment for the ward.”
    • Aaron McDowell: Yes. “Yes. Prior to the SPAP Winnipeg was very focused on lowest up front cost instead of the bigger picture. I believe working with local experts and community leaders to develop a procurement plan that is not only cost effective in the long run but also considers the ethical, environmental, and economic effects of its spending. Sustainability and equity should be paramount.”
  • North Kildonan
    • No response from any candidates.
  • Old Kildonan
    • No response from any candidates.
  • Point Douglas
    • No response from any candidates.
  • River Heights – Fort Garry
    • John Orlikow: Yes. “As mentioned, I voted in favor of this plan, and will continue to support future motions and iterations on on the action plan to continue to make procurement practices fair, open and transparent.”
    • Brant Field: no response.
    • Gary Lenko: no response.
  • St. Boniface
    • Matt Allard: no response.
    • Marcel Boille: Somewhat. “Unable to answer yes or no, because I now very little about this, and would need to have the time to look at it, something that I don’t have time to do right now.”
    • Nicholas Douklias: no response.
  • St. James
    • Daevid Ramey: Yes. “The new role should entrenched in the Materials Management Team to ensure sustainable procurement is a part of every conversation with a reporting dotted line going to the Office of Sustainability. Clear goals and metrics will be necessary for success. Soft language like “recommend” and “wherever possible’ will enable too many projects to opt out. We should be looking to other municipalities that have strong integrated strategies for guidance and then adjust for scale and current capabilities.”
    • Kelly Ryback: no response.
    • Eddie Ayoub: Yes. ‘The dedicated staff person will have to be a City of Winnipeg employee. Any third party expert will have to be employed by a not-for profit, arms length organization or body. It will be essential to make proper connections and build relationships with all of the various city departments so staff have a good understanding of why we are moving to sustainable procurement. Respect, communication, education, listening to concerns and answering questions will be an integral part of implementing this action plan.”
    • Tim Diack: no response.
    • Shawn Dobson: no response.
  • St. Norbert – Seine River
    • Markus Chambers: Yes. “I worked with stakeholders to develop a motion that was eventually approved to move this work forward. I advocated for the hiring of Buy Social to provide best practices for Winnipeg to consider. I will continue to be a voice at city hall for proper social procurement practices that provide a community benefit. A win win for all.”
  • St. Vital
    • Brian Mayes: Yes. “I voted for it and will work to implement it.”
    • Baljeet Sharma: no response.
    • Derrick Dujlovic: no response.
  • Transcona
    • No responses from any candidate.
  • Waverley West
    • Pascal Scott: no response.
    • Janice Lukes: Yes. “There will be many new councillors / and many councillors from former term could use more in depth understanding of the sustainable procurement action plan will work. I will champion info sessions – which I HIGHLY recommend you also do.”

2. If elected, what other actions will you take to increase social purchasing practices in the City of Winnipeg with positive social, economic, and environmental benefits for our local community?

  • Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood
    • No response from any candidates.
  • Daniel McIntyre
    • Cindy Gilroy: “Hiring, purchasing and community input.”
    • Sal Infantino: “I will ensure to have Targeted Purchased with Social organization what have the ability fill the need.”
    • Omar Kinnarath: “I would prioritize procurement from Indigenous led enterprises and amplify any newcomer enterprises that have goods and services that the city might be able to use.”
  • Elmwood – East Kildonan
    • Jason Schreyer: no response.
    • Ryan Kochie: “I think having an emphasis for city employees who are in charge of purchasing to ensure they are making the best choices and when the city tenders bids to ensure part of the review process before a bid goes out is that it includes information on what the city is looking for in terms of social and sustainable procurement. That we make it clear we want businesses to be socially minded, to put the environment first, with consulting indigenous stakeholders on issues, that we work these tenets into all our procurement processes so that it becomes standard procedure and hopefully reflects on how businesses work in this city as we need to lead by example.”
  • Fort Rouge – East Fort Garry
    • Michael Thompson: no response.
    • Sherri Rollins: “Please see my climate justice, climate resilience platform documents at www.VoteSherriRollins.ca
  • Mynarski
    • Ed Radchenka: “Again I am only one voice With negotiation with other council members. we can solve lots. I will follow all Protocol, and BE VOICE OF THE FUTURE”
    • Ross Eadie: “My campaign commitment in short on better jobs follows: Better Employment with the City. This year the city had a very hard time hiring workers to fulfill the goals of city services because we no longer pay living wages. Continuing my work towards providing good paying city jobs, the new reality for the city will give incentive to a new City Council for those better jobs.  Working for the city in the past provided good jobs at a decent wage for our North End & West Kildonan families.  For a couple of decades City Council has ignored its former role in providing these decent jobs that ensured we could raise our families to experience a better future.
    • Steve Snyder: no response.
    • Natalie Smith: “If elected, I would call upon the local organizations, social enterprises and experts in these fields to make informed decisions that will benefit our local community the most. The City has so many well researched and field tested ideas and solutions that need to be allocated the proper funding to ensure their success. This is something I will work hard to ensure takes place to better our community.”
    • Aaron McDowell: “While it is important to be fiscally responsible Winnipeg must also be conscientious of the social effects. A more open line of communication between the City and community leaders will help increase accountability and generate opportunities for organizations that may have been otherwise overlooked as avenues for development. Making a more transparent vetting process of city spending will instill trust and honesty in both the constituents and city hall. We can do better.”
  • North Kildonan
    • No response from any candidates.
  • Old Kildonan
    • No response from any candidates.
  • Point Douglas
    • No response from any candidates.
  • River Heights – Fort Garry
    • John Orlikow: “If elected, I will continue to evaluate the City’s purchasing behaviour through the four pillars (environmental, ethical, social, and Indigenous.) when creating and voting on Council motions, as I always have in the past.”
    • Brant Field: no response.
    • Gary Lenko: no response.
  • St. Boniface
    • Matt Allard: no response.
    • Marcel Boille: “Again same answer as previous question. I have always supported the idea of buying locally providing that local does not want to take advantage of you for doing so.”
    • Nicholas Douklias: no response.
  • St. James
    • Daevid Ramey: “A successful launch and acceptance of the policy means bringing our partners along the way. I would work with local businesses to ensure they understand or are given value for the our new direction and how their own businesses may already be or could be contributing to a better and more sustainable city.”
    • Kelly Ryback: no response.
    • Eddie Ayoub: “This action plan is excellent. Let’s start with implementation and see where we can improve and take things further once we’ve seen how the plan is being received and outcomes have been measured. Thank you for doing this work.”
    • Tim Diack: no response.
    • Shawn Dobson: no response.
  • St. Norbert – Seine River
    • Markus Chambers: “Work in collaboration with stakeholder groups and council colleagues to move this work forward. Continue to research opportunities to increase the City’s capacity to create more social purpose enterprises as well as community benefits that improve our environment.”
  • St. Vital
    • Brian Mayes: “My focus will be on the north and sewage treatment plant upgrades ensuring these are done with a social benefits lens.”
    • Baljeet Sharma: no response.
    • Derrick Dujlovic: no response.
  • Transcona
    • No responses from any candidate.
  • Waverley West
    • Pascal Scott: no response.
    • Janice Lukes: “Councillors are restricted from being involved in any way in the procurement process. Sharing EDUCATION on social purchasing practices with staff and the public is in my opinion the best way to make change of any kind and highlighting proven examples. Our city / and residents are in a time like no other – the need and value of social, sustainable procurement is more relevant now than ever.”
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CCEDNet’s 2023 Pre-Budget Brief outlines our priorities and proposals for the next federal budget, namely the full implementation of the Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy. 

In June 2022, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance (FINA) invited Canadians to participate in its annual pre-budget consultations in advance of the 2023 federal budget. Following translation, written briefs will be distributed to FINA and posted on the Committee’s website. Selected individuals and organizations will be invited to appear before the Committee. A report on these consultations will be tabled in the House of Commons and will inform the preparation of the Minister of Finance’s next budget.

Download our Pre-Budget Brief

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Elizabeth Milan

Elizabeth leads CCEDNet’s policy efforts. Until recently Elizabeth worked in the federal government as a senior policy advisor on various issues including First Nations health, anti-gender-based violence, and anti-racism. Previously she spent over 15 years in non-government organizations as a fundraiser for social change and as a community developer/social worker with children and youth, women, immigrants and refugees.

Transitioning to a just and sustainable future requires a perspective that is more integral, more holistic and more demanding of co-operation than anything we have seen since the rise of industrialization.

To meet this challenge, Toward Co-operative Commonwealth: Transition in a Perilous Century, a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) is being delivered by Synergia Institute and Athabasca University.

As part of the delivery of the MOOC, CCEDNet is seeking to collaborate with community partners across the country to advance learning outcomes of the MOOC through the Synergia Transition and Resilience Climate Action Program (STARCAP). The program’s objective is to mobilize local climate action in ways that advance community resilience, capacity and climate justice.

Who are STARCAP’s Community Partners?

Community partners are organizations who recognize the urgency of community-led climate action and are already active in that work or are committed to undertaking it.

With support from CCEDNet, partners recruit participants within their networks to enroll in the MOOC and apply course frameworks through study circles, action groups and participatory workshops.

The program provides impactful community building and mobilization tools including:

  • a shared language for community stakeholders to speak about climate change
  • frameworks to guide climate action and community resilience initiatives
  • tools to network across various stakeholders (local governments, community/regionally anchored businesses, affiliate organizations and networks, youth initiatives, etc.) to advance movement building
  • examples of community-led, climate activism from Canada and around the world to inspire and catalyze efforts
  • participatory workshops
  • 1:1 guidance on climate action and community resilience planning with environmental and community development educators
  • networking and network building across the program’s community partner network

Partners will receive a $20,000 contribution from STARCAP to support program requirements

Become a STARCAP Community Partner

For more information on STARCAP and how to apply, download the Community Partner Information Package (PDF) below.

Deadline to apply is November 4th, 2022.

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The words Cultivating Joy are integrated into an image of tree roots growing downwards. Text says "Celebrating 20 years! The Gathering 2022 will focus on the power of joy - how we use it to connect to each other and strengthen our movements. An in person event. Oct 21, 2022"

The Manitoba Gathering 2022 is nurturing and strengthening our movements through celebration.

Throughout the last two years, community building efforts have been challenged, pushed to extremes, and change has been happening at a rapid rate. For people working to improve our communities and tackle complex problems, our shared purpose and vision is a source of hope. There is joy in connection, in participating in movements, in mutual care, and in seeing transformation.

Gathering 2022 – Cultivating Joy – is an incredible opportunity to collaborate with community builders to connect, learn, and take action. Happening in-person, on October 21st, 2022, the Gathering 2022 will be a fun and engaging day that will focus on the power of joy – how we use it to connect to each other and strengthen our organizations and movements.

For the 20th year of the Gathering, we invite you to celebrate this event milestone and your collective accomplishments building inclusive, sustainable, and equitable economies and communities. We invite participants to examine how we care for ourselves, each other, the environment, and consider how we can elicit joy to strengthen our communities and our movements.

The learning opportunities of the 20th edition of the Gathering will explore the connection between joy and the work of Community Economic Development:

  • What are the ways we can honour joy for everyone as we acknowledge our collective grief?
  • By coming together and working across differences, can we create joy and hope for achieving our shared vision?
  • How do we make work cultures that promote good health?
  • How can we use joy to make movements and transformation irresistible?
  • Join us in-person at St. John’s High School in Winnipeg for the Gathering 2022 Conference – as we celebrate each other, our work, and the 20th anniversary of the Gathering.

Friday, October 21, 2022
8:30 am – 4:30 pm
St. John’s High School
401 Church Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba

CCEDNet MB acknowledges that we gather on ancestral lands, on Treaty One Territory. These lands are the heartland of the Métis people. We acknowledge that our water is sourced from Shoal Lake 40 First Nation.

Register

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In Step into the River: A Framework for Economic Reconciliation, Sxwpilemaát Siyám (Chief Leanne Joe, Squamish Nation) and Lily Raphael draw direct linkages between reconciliation and CED. “The principles of CED and Indigenous worldviews have a lot in common including holism, interconnectivity, systems thinking, grounding initiatives in place, and centering well-being and the environment, and not just production/profit. Reconciliation is an implementation of CED,” they explain. Their framework encourages us to understand economic reconciliation as an ongoing journey, one guided by values such as accountability and truth-telling, recognition and respect for title and rights, and connection to land and place. 

To put these principles into practice, we need a foundation of strong reciprocal relationships. For CCEDNet, our partnership with the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) is one such relationship. For the past several years, we’ve been collaborating with NAFC (as well as SRDC) to run the youth employment program CreateAction. It’s a rich relationship, and our peers at NAFC are gracious teachers. So we asked Francyne Joe, NAFC’s partnership manager, to share her thoughts on economic reconciliation.

Francyne Joe of the National Association of Friendship Centres

CCEDNet: What is the relationship between CED and reconciliation?
Francyne Joe: CED looks to create opportunities through social innovation and economic opportunities that benefit those people facing challenges due to finances, education, employment, etc. By partnering in a reconciliatory manner on entrepreneurial activities, we look to engage collaboratively on endeavors that are mutually beneficial for the community and the environment recognizing that prosperity may be reflected not just in financial gain but helping people to achieve various facets of prosperity while ensuring the land is continually cared for by us for future generations.

CCEDNet: Which Indigenous-run CED initiatives do you find inspiring? What are some of the lessons, challenges, and/or victories that have emerged from these initiatives?
FJ: The project at the Winnipeg Indigenous Friendship Centre is the most inspiring. Being able to hire a youth to provide leadership and energy for a program that had been diminished by COVID-circumstances demonstrated that individuals can lead a change that can benefit a community! Her passion and energy led to a re-energised sports program and grew to support other demographic groups which really embraced the vision of the Friendship Centre movement and their reason for being.

CCEDNet: What is economic reconciliation? How can the CED sector help to advance the pursuit of economic reconciliation?
FJ: I think of economic reconciliation as the merging of commercial prosperity with a holistic approach, a traditional approach. It draws upon partnerships within the community, of mutual goals, and shared prosperity over and above money.
CED can help remind us that as we pursue economic reconciliation, we are looking at the benefits besides just financial – does it harmonize with community goals, support individual growth, share the values of the community and develop capacity that are valuable for long-term goals? Is it inclusive?

CCEDNet: How can the CED sector better integrate the principles of Indigenous sovereignty, reconciliation, and decolonization into the core of its work?
FJ: Application of these principles (sovereignty, reconciliation, and decolonization) when pursuing new activities or reviewing previous activities with these principles in mind, to ensure that such principles are not being violated. If they are being violated, what can we do to remedy the situation?
Collaboration with local Indigenous groups on how to improve policies or activities being sought and actually considered. The process may not be popular, or fast, or cheap, but it should ensure that future generations don’t have to solve the mistakes we make now.

CCEDNet: What does it mean for non-Indigenous CED practitioners to be in good relationship with Indigenous CED practitioners?
FJ: It’s a continual learning process for everyone and the situations may change depending on various factors such as time or geography. Good relationships take time and need to be constantly cared for and when changes occur, communication is integral.

CCEDNet: What roles might young people (such as the youth participants in CreateAction) play in advancing economic reconciliation?
FJ: Just raising the questions and considering the response (or lack of response) is a good start. Young people will benefit as will all youth by ensuring everyone is consistent and harmonious when approaching economic reconciliation. This is a long-term path.
As Chief Dr Robert Joseph said – Our future, and the well-being of all our children rests with the kinds of relationships we build today.

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The Canadian CED Network welcomes you to join a community of brave, innovative and determined leaders from across Canada to examine self-leadership, leading and understanding others, and leading within an organization through 6 sessions of supported and embodied learning.


This unique learning environment is intentionally designed to respond to your experience. You can expect to refine and build your leadership skills and apply what you’ve learned in new, meaningful and purposeful ways. You’ll gain tools to help strengthen your teams and encourage problem solving and creativity, so that you can collectively navigate and effectively respond to change, innovation and the current priorities of your work environment.


You’ll emerge from the course energized, aligned, and equipped to harness your leadership to best effect moving forward.

Learning Objectives:

Module 1 (14 hours): Leading and Understanding Myself
Becoming a more self-aware and confident leader, build on current skills and experience to gain greater clarity and insight into your leadership style and strengths so you can serve yourself, others and your organizations even better.
Module 2 (14 hours): Leading and Understanding Others
Enhance and build key senior leadership skills to engage and lead people so you can all contribute and thrive professionally, meet the challenge of navigating an organization and increase your impact.
Module 3 (14 hours): Leading within my Organization
Be more prepared for the opportunities and challenges that being a leader presents, build essential skills of a change leader, learn to develop teams and build team resilience, learn to lead through change and expertly communicate through courageous conversations.

  • For whom: The course is carefully designed to be impactful for leaders at all stages.
  • When: 9am – 4pm ET on Thursdays (biweekly) from October 6 – Dec 15, 2022 (6 days in total)
  • Limited Capacity: Please note that the course will be capped at 20 learners to ensure each participant has a high quality, engaging and impactful experience.
  • Accreditation: This program offers the opportunity to achieve the ILM Award in Leadership accreditation. A certificate will be awarded upon completion of the program.

Course Registration:

$1250 for CCEDNet members ($250 savings)
$1500 for Non-members

Accessibility: Closed Captioning will be available at the workshop. Additional accessibility accommodations are available by advanced request.

Impact

The impact of this program has been championed by the organizations that have gone through this Leadership Program every year since 2016!

Impact to date:

  • 94% of learners indicated the training was very effective in helping them to apply the learning in their day-to-day leadership role
  • 98% of learners would recommend the training to a friend or colleague
  • 100% of the learners who moved through the program said they used the learning in their roles (90% of whom felt they would use it often or every day!)
  • Time to reflect on your experience and potential is a precious thing. We encourage and invite you to invest in your leadership practice and experience this unique and intentional learning environment dedicated to supporting the exceptional people and unique demands leadership presents.

Your Facilitator: Suzanne Gibson

Suzanne Gibson

Our Leadership programs, facilitated by Suzanne Gibson, will offer anyone who leads a team the chance to take a well-supported deep dive into leadership practices, skills, and tools.

Suzanne Gibson “awakens the potential” of your organization to achieve its mandate and vision. Over the past 25 years, Suzanne has:

  • inspired new and established organizations to “dream big,” unite around an idea and turn those dreams into reality
  • uncovered creative solutions to complex social and organization problems
  • mobilized diverse groups into strong teams
  • facilitated and supported leaders, staff and volunteers to achieve their personal and collective potential
  • applied her entrepreneurial flair to start up innovative new ventures
  • equipped organizations to secure much-needed knowledge, skills and resources.

Suzanne will help you draw out the very best from your staff and stakeholders as you help create a better world.


Not a CCEDNet member? Join CCEDNet or contact Adriana at a.zylinski@ccednet-rcdec.ca.

Register now!

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Good Jobs + Good Business = Better Community

Good Jobs + Good Business = Better Community: The Mayor's Social Enterprise and Social Procurement Task Force Draft Action Plan

On March 23, 2017 the Victoria City Council adopted the “Good Jobs + Good Business = Better Community” Action Plan developed by the Mayor’s Task Force on Social Enterprise and Social Procurement. The adoption comes with the amendment that the plan include “recent immigrants” as a strategic group of focus.

Using an ecosystem-based approach to community economic development, the action plan focuses to a large degree on efforts to get the unemployed, underemployed and marginalized into employment. The plan identifies three sets of recommendations that will strengthen the City’s procurement practices to maximize community benefit as well as support small business and social enterprise sectors.

The three recommendations include:

  • Social Procurement: purchases should be leveraged to improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of the community
  • Social Enterprise Development: strengthen and grow businesses already doing business with community benefit in mind and grow the social enterprise sector
  • Leading Economic Change: make the mainstream economy more inclusive to ensure there is always an opportunity for everyone to prosper

Each recommendation has a set of actions and tasks to be implemented over the next five years to achieve prescribed outcomes. Leads and supports in the community to help achieve these outcomes are noted and include the City of Victoria, local organizations, agencies and business. Next steps will include City staff developing a Social Procurement Framework and work plan for Council’s consideration.

Read the “Good Jobs + Good Business = Better Community” Action Plan 

About the Task Force

The Task Force on Social Enterprise and Social Procurement was a recommendation of the Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Development and Prosperity, which with input from the community, developed the City’s economic action plan, Making Victoria: Unleashing Potential in 2015. The economic action plan identifies six engines to drive economic prosperity, generate jobs and raise household incomes. One engine that encompasses the rest is entrepreneurship and social enterprise.

Source: The City of Victoria

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Originally published June 25, 2014

This is Part 2 of a 2-part series. Click here to read the first in this series. 

Tackling the Fundamental Issue: Ownership 

My suggestion is that the ownership of capital itself needs to change. We need to democratize ownership.

We need to look outside the dichotomy we have seen so far of either:

  1. taxing income or wealth for redistribution via mechanisms like the welfare state; or
  2. nationalizing all wealth for state-run economies.

We need to look at a third approach, of democratic ownership by people and communities. There are many possibilities, which can certainly be combined:

  • Land needs to be considered a common good, for the benefit of humanity and future generations, and not just something to exploit. Speculation on land is nonsense.  By making land part of the commons, instead of it being privately owned, people could pay for the right to use the land for farming, housing (or other purposes) through long-term leases or annual dues.  Community Land Trusts are a good example of this approach.
  • Worker ownership of businesses, the most famous example of which is Mondragon, the world’s largest co-operative group with 80,000 worker owners.
  • Co-ownership of the means of production such as factories and technology. People in communities could be co-owners with private capital.
  • Multi-stakeholder organizations, on the model of social or solidarity co-operatives, could manage local stores, food distribution, and other activities. Consumers and producers, working together, can bridge the gap that has been put in place by capitalist production and distribution systems where large corporations control all aspects, both the prices paid to producers and the prices consumers pay. The Seikatsu Club Cooperative Union in Japan, with 350,000 members, buys food and other household items directly from producers, and with annual sales of $1 billion, it shows that a market can exist outside the capitalist system.
  • Capital needed for investment in alternatives already exists. Huge pension funds, many of which are currently invested in large private corporations or managed by private funds, could be invested in local and community economies. Another huge amount of capital exists in credit unions. Instead of lending to buy consumer goods, sold by corporations, part of this capital could be lent to co-operatives or other community-owned businesses.
  • We have to take inspiration from the notion of Mother Earth. In Canada, aboriginal peoples considered land as a common good, belonging to the people.  Human beings must respect the planet on which we live. An example of this is community forestry in Nepal. As stipulated in Nepal’s constitution, Community Forestry Groups (CFG) manage the forest. Altogether, about one third of total population (8 million people), are organised in about 13,500 CFGs.
  • Saving locally owned business from predatory buyouts by larger corporations or funds of all types prevents more concentration of capital and wealth. Any successful business is seen as prey by investors of all kinds.  Sometimes they close the local businesses or delocalise factories, or sometimes they will continue operating, if they can siphon away profits.  This is not a question of being bad or good, it is just the way our current system works. But there are alternatives.  A good example is the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) in the USA, an association of 30,000 small businesses that advocate for strong local economies. Another American example is referendums in some US cities to prevent Walmart from taking over local economies. The multinational corporation, one of the largest in the world, destroys locally-owned small businesses in cities where they operate. In some US cities, citizens have been able to prevent Walmart from invading.

Many other examples could be given of organizing the economy in a very different manner. The key idea is that the concentration of most wealth in the top 10% is not inevitable. 

If we organize differently, in a deliberate and conscious manner, we could turn things around surprisingly quickly.

Of course, to achieve this, people need to be conscious citizens instead of just consumers. Even if the 1% (and the 10%) are very strong with their control of the economy, media, and influence in politics, they are still in fact a very small minority. As long as citizens think there is no alternative, they will continue exercising control over our society. But, as the examples show, the possibilities are enormous when people become conscious. After all, it people stop buying at Walmart, or stop going to McDonald’s, those corporations will change or shrink and disappear.  People are not forced to buy from them. We have just been persuaded to do so.

At the same time, we need to work on all fronts. For example, Foundations were started as an inheritance tax evasion. I remember well a book I read in 1968 by Ferdinand Lundberg The Rich and the Super-Rich. A Study in the Power of Money Today (New York: Lyle Stuart, 1968). This book explained how foundations were invented in the US by the billionaires such as Carnegie, Mellon, Ford, Rockefeller and others in order to avoid inheritance tax.  They were able to get the US Congress to vote these laws, giving them control over the foundations and the power to name people to the Boards. In more recent times, we have Melinda and Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and the Walton (Walmart) family.

What would be an optimum situation?  We can easily imagine much more equal societies, where those with upper incomes and those who have accumulated wealth might have 5-10 times more income than average, instead or 250 or 500 times more. There is absolutely no justification for the appropriation of most wealth by a tiny minority. The super-rich have so much money that they cannot use it all, while at the same time people are undernourished and live in inhuman conditions. This is both indecent and immoral.

A Final Thought

Unquestionably, Piketty has rendered an important service to humanity. More or less like the scientific proof that the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has established for global warming.

In both cases, we have proof that the two problems – inequality and global warming – are results of human activity. They are not “acts of God,” a result of natural disasters, or even a question of human nature or a natural order or things. These justifications are pure ideology to defend inequality and the devastation of the planet, which are deeply linked since the increase in profits is very closely tied to the syndrome of increasing production that is destroying oceans, rainforests and using most natural resources in such a way that they will last for only a few generations.

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